Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Stitch 'n' Bitch - The Happy Hooker"

This book has received a lot of hype, beginning last year with the "Hooray! Debbie Stoller's going to write a book for crocheters" rumors. I'm not familiar with M's Stoller's previous books, which had to do with knitting, so I definitely wondered what she had to offer crocheters. After all, her fame came from the 2 _knitting_ books she had written.

The short review is if you are just learning to crochet, this is probably a good place to start. Is it as good as Pauline Turner's "How To Crochet"? If you go by the amount of patterns, the "The Happy Hooker" has 40 patterns to "Hot to Crochet" has about 15 patterns. If you know a lot about pop culture, "The Happy Hooker" would probably be more to your liking. But M's Turner's book, in my opinion, gets you crocheting much quicker. But there should be a place for both of these books on your bookshelf.

The illustrations by Adrienne Yan are very clear and concise. They show you right where the yarn and the hook should be placed. The terminology which M's Stoller uses seems a bit juvenile to me ( the "butt" of the stitch? come on). Her many references to pop culture make me realize she is aimimg for a younger audience than I happen to provide. It seems to be a "dumbed down" crochet instruction book.

The patterns - the real meat of the book. It's interesting (to me, at least) to note that M's Stoller did not contribute any patterns to this book. Some patterns seem familiar but that's true in any crochet book. You're still working with the same basic stitches stitches. My current favorite has to be the the sock monkey baby hat. I personally don't care for sock monkeys, but my sister-in-law does and I think I will be making a bigger version for her. I plan to make the bunny slippers for myself. And most likely, I will be making the "Jolly Roger" sweater for my younger son.

The patterns feature a variety of yarns in any price range - Aurora, Bernat, Berroco, Patons, Red Heart, Lions are just a few of the yarns used for the projects. The photos of the finished projects really capture the crochet work involved. And the patterns are very good. I'm just not thrilled with the cutesy names ("Knot Ugly Shrug" and "Orange You Glad" for example). It makes it harder for me to remember which pattern is what. But the pop culture references and the cutesy names abound in this book.

I have a problem with M's Stoller's attitude towards crocheting. It seems a bit on the snarky side. I could go on and on, but I'll just leave it at this quote
"when you are working lacy stitch patterns in crochet, you are less likely to create mistakes....it's very easy to make errors while creating lace in knitting and spending hours undoing rows of intricate lace work...". As someone who has been on row 40 of a project and spotted an error on row 8, it doesn't make_ me_ happy to realize I must rip out 32 rows to correct my mistake. I'm sure other crocheters feel the same way.
Wait, please indulge me in _one_ more quote "In the years following that wacky time (late 1960s and early 1970s), crochet kind of burned out, becoming irrelevant to all but those interested in wearing purple-and-green-striped woolen pants." Where does this come from? I remember crochet from that time period and I _definitely_ do not remember that bit of fashion. I get the impression that M's Stoller thinks her knitting book was responsible for making knitting popular and shebelieves she is doing the same thing for crochet.

As to M's Stoller's comment about "hookers" being associated with crocheted lace, according to this particular site http://www.swcivilwar.com/hooker.html, they are named for General Joseph Hooker. I had never heard the story about crocheted lace and prostitutes being linked before reading this book.

Will "Stitch 'n' Bitch - The Happy Hooker" stand the test of time? I don't think so, too many cutesy terms and pop culture references, but that's just my opinion. I believe "How To Crochet" will stand the test of time. Your mileage may vary. I do know there are some great projects in M's Stoller's book. And I do know I got to figure out how to modify that sock monkey hat.